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Moravian Molasses Cookies

These paper-thin spice cookies are a traditional treat at Christmastime in Moravia, a region that is today part of the Czech Republic. The cookies taste like a light, crisp version of gingerbread and are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee during the cold winter months. The dough for these delicate cookies is easy to handle, so don’t be afraid to roll it out thinly.

Ingredients:

  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) (4 oz./125 g) unsalted butter, at room
      temperature
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz./105 g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup (7 1/2 oz./230 g) dark molasses
  • 2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 oz./390 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar mixed with 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
      for sprinkling (optional)

Directions:

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the butter until fluffy and pale yellow. Beat in the brown sugar until no longer gritty when rubbed between your finger and thumb. Reduce the speed to low and gradually beat in the molasses.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and allspice onto a sheet of waxed paper. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 3 additions, beating on low speed or stirring with a wooden spoon after each addition until blended.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into 6 equal portions. Shape into disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.

Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out the dough on a floured surface to a thickness of about 1/8 inch (3 mm). Using a 2-inch (5-cm) fluted or plain cookie cutter, cut out shapes or rounds. Using a thin offset spatula, carefully transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, brushing off excess flour and placing them about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Repeat with the remaining dough, then gather up the scraps, reroll them and cut out more cookies. Sprinkle the cookies with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Bake the cookies until set, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let cool for about 2 minutes. Using a thin, flexible metal spatula, transfer the cookies to the racks and let cool completely. Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book, edited by Chuck Williams (Oxmoor House, 2009).